To my Beirut

Á mon Beyrouth…

Norwegian Lebanese Cultural Week at Masrah Al Madina (Al Madina Theatre)


This is repost from the NGO’s blog.

Nahnoo is honored to invite you with the support of the Norwegian embassy in Beirut and Norla institute, for the third consecutive year, to participate in the Lebanese-Norwegian Cultural Week

Under the patronage of His Excellency, the Minister of Culture Gaby Layoun


Monday April 2nd
Reading Poems by the Lebanese and Norwegian poets Inger Elisabeth Hansen, Iskandar Habash, Torgeir Schjerven and Ali Matar.

Tuesday April 3rd 
Signing and discussion of the book “A History of Western Thought” authored by the Norwegian writers Professor Gunnar Skirbekk and Nils Gilje with the cooperation of the Arab Organization for Translation (AOT), and in the presence of Dr. Georges Zinati and Dr. Moussa Wehbeh.

Wednesday April 4th
Screening of the documentary “How to start a revolution” for the director Gene Sharp, followed by an open public discussion.

Thursday April 5th 
Debate about the “Freedom of expression, its limits and where does it end” between Dr. Ali Fayad and Professor Gunnar Skirbekk.

Friday April 6th 
Screening of the film “Tears of Gaza” in the presence of the film’s Norwegian director Vibeke Løkkeberg, followed by an open public discussion.
(Description available below)

Saturday April 7th 
Musical Piece performed by the Norwegian musicians Bendik Giske, Daniel Herskedal and musicians from the Lebanese Conservatory.

Free entrance

For more information:
(+961) 03077059
(+961) 01280474

Introduction to the Arabic translation of the history of western thought book:

This book was originally written in Norwegian, as a text for the introductory courses in the history of philosophy that are mandatory for all university students in Norway. Due to extensive discussions with the students, and useful remarks and proposals from colleagues, the text was gradually developed until it got its present shape as a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of western thought. One of my students from the early years, Nils Gilje, became a co-author at a later stage.
The book is now read and used in many countries. At present, it is available in 16 languages, from French to Chinese, from Russian to Turkish – in eight westeuropean languages and eight languages from Russian and eastward.
Why? There are many books in the history of philosophy, so why do people choose this one? We may rephrase the question: How is the book evaluated by foreign readers? What do they find attractive? These questions were given to colleagues in Russia and China where the book is much used and read. In brief, these are the answers:
(i) The way it is written: The book is written in a language that is easily accessible for readers who are not professional philosophers, and at the same time it is written in a way that is problem-oriented and argumentative.
(ii) The presentation is comprehensive: It starts with early Greek thinkers and goes the whole way up to thinkers of our time. It does not end with Kant or Hegel, or some other classical thinker of the past. It goes the whole way up to contemporary thinkers and debates.
(iii) Moreover, the presentation is comprehensive in the sense that it does not operate with a narrow notion of philosophy. It operates with a comprehensive notion that includes main ideas and positions in political theory, and that includes a presentation of main developments in the sciences, in the humanities and social sciences as well as the natural sciences, not to forget jurisprudence and theology.
(iv) In addition, it is comprehensive in the sense that it also focuses on how ideas and thoughts are situated historically and socially. Intertwined with a philosophical approach, taking questions and arguments seriously at face value, it has a historical and sociological perspective on philosophical ideas and discussions.
(v) Finally, Chinese readers appreciate the mentioning of Chinese thinkers, and Russian readers, in the former Soviet Union, appreciate that Marx and Marxism are presented in the same way as other thinkers, not overlooked nor presented dogmatically as defenders of ‘the final truth’.
To the extent that these responses from foreign readers are reliable, we may presume that Arab readers will appreciate the joint presentation of philosophy, theology, and science in the medieval ages, including Arab thinkers and scholars, as an integral part of this history of western thought.
At this point we may recall that the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – appear as ‘western religions’ when seen from a Chinese position. And why not? In our time it is no longer evident what counts as ‘the center for the world’, from which the rest of the world is seen as ‘east’ and ‘west’.
A related point is the following: Is there only one way of being modern, say, the Anglo-American, or are there ‘multiple modernities’? What does it mean to be Chinese and modern, Arab and modern, or Norwegian and modern? These are urgent questions in our time, and they represent a main concern underlying this comprehensive presentation of the history of philosophy: Conceived as a comprehensive history of basic ideas and discussions, it is thereby already concerned with the discussions as to how these ideas and processes have contributed to the development of the modern world. It is concerned with processes that shaped the modern world in its diversity and fagility, but also with its universal core, common to all, ‘western’ or ‘nonwestern’.
It is up to the reader to evaluate the strength and weaknesses of a book like this. But there is one more observation to be mentioned in this respect: In main European countries, such as France, Britain, and Germany, there is often a national bias when it comes to philosophy. In France it is very French, in Germany very German, and in Britain very British. However, in smaller countries, as in northwestern Europe, one has to ‘trade’ with everybody, also philosophically. Being familiar with all the great nations and their intellectual traditions, one is less French than the French, less German than the Germans, and less British than the British, but at the same time, and for the same reason, more ‘European’ than most of them.
To follow up on this point, we may address the following hypothesis: Those who look upon the world and world philosophy from the Scandinavian countries, north of the former colonial nations of Europe, may have another attitude and self-awareness than the kind of condescending attitude to foreign cultures that may still prevail in countries with a colonial past.
Be this as it may, it is up to the reader to see whether this book conveys a perspective on the history of philosophy that is less biased that other presentations of western thought, and whether, for that reason, it is of special interest for an Arab audience.
At any rate, we the authors are deeply honored by this translation of the history of philosophy in Arabic, one of the major languages of our time. We are sincerely grateful to the Arab Organization for Translation, for translating and publishing this book. And also, we would be pleased to get reactions and comments from readers of this Arabic version of the history of philosophy.
Gunnar Skirbekk
for the authors

Tears of Gaza:
Official Decription:
In a rough style, by way of unique footage, the brutal consequences of modern wars are exposed. The film also depicts the ability of women and children to handle their everyday life after a dramatic war experience. Many of them live in tents or in ruins without walls or roofs. They are all in need of money, food, water and electricity. Others have lost family members, or are left with seriously injured children. Can war solve conflicts or create peace? The film follows three children through the war and the period after the ceasefire


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This entry was posted on April 4, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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